Thursday 7th November 2013 - Catherton Common

Today I returned to Catherton Common on the lower slopes of the Clee Hills in Shropshire.  I decided to start today's visit by walking around the boggy pools at the NE side of the common but before I had even walked a few paces toward the pools 5 Common Snipe flew up. 

When flushed, Common Snipe behave in a totally different way to Jack Snipe (see 24th October post).  Common Snipe will fly up as soon as the see you (which can be some distance away, they fly in quite a zigzag fashion and tend to fly off as opposed to dropping back down a short(ish) distance away.  They also tend to make quite a harsh scrapping 'chack' call as they take off.

As I continued my walk around the Common I checked out a number of the pools but to no avail, not a single Jack Snipe on this visit.  That said I did note 4 Stonechat (2♂, 2♀), 3 Raven, 1 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel.

Other wildlife highlights encountered at Catherton included 2 Brown Hares that were cavorting around and a single Peacock butterfly that was making the most of the Autumn sunshine.

View from Catherton Common towards Titterstone Clee Hill

Snipe Pools - Catherton Common

Common Snipe (from the archives)

3rd & 4th November 2013 - Shenstone

Sunday 3rd November:
Today, I arrived on the patch mid afternoon and decided to undertake a walk around the 'beet field'.  This proved rather successful as I picked up a flock of 8 Corn Buntings feeding there.  This was the first sign of them starting to flock together for the winter.  Also of note during the walk were 12 Linnet, 7 Meadow Pipits, 1 Yellowhammer and a Common Buzzard.
Heath Lane was relatively quiet but for a charm of 23 Goldfinch perched up on the wires above the paddock.  A single Mistle Thrush and a Common Buzzard were also observed.
Witch Lane was fairly productive with 13 Fieldfare over heading South and a Cormorant & Grey Heron also over.  A 2nd Grey Heron was sat in the field at the rear of the fishery.  A Kestrel, a Common Buzzard and a Jay were also noted.

Elsewhere on the patch...a drake Shoveler was present on Captains Pool (TS).
Corn Buntings - 3rd November 2013

Monday 4th November:
I only had time for a brief visit to the patch today, so only concentrated on a couple of areas.

At the top of Witch Lane (near the junction with the A450) there was a White Saddle fungus growing. This was the first time I had noted this species at Shenstone. 

 Further along the lane a covey of 4 Red-legged Partridge were noted and a Grey Heron was again sat in the field behind the fisheries.

Along Butts lane I discovered my 2nd new fungi for the patch when I came a cross 4 fruiting bodies of Boletus cisalpinus near Eastfields Farm.  The only birds of note here were a ♂ Kestrel, a Common Buzzard and a single Pied Wagtail.

Boletus cisalpinus

Wyre Forest Local Group - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust

Some of you may or may not know but I have recently offered to help the Wyre Forest Local Group of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust with their IT side of things and thought I would use the blog for a bit of PR for the group and mention the forthcoming indoor meeting...

There is a talk on Peregrine Falcons in Kidderminster on Thursday night by fellow wildlife blogger Jim Almond ( 

The indoor meeting is held at the Holy Innocents Community Hall in Kidderminster and starts at 7:30 pm and runs until approx. 9:30 pm.  Entry is £2 and refreshments are provided.

Jim is one of the best photographers I know so it should make for an interesting talk... for more details click on the below link:

Anyway PR over...cheers for taking the time to check out this page.

Cheers Jase

Thursday 24th October 2013 - Titterstone Clee Hill & Catherton Common

This morning I decided to head up to Titterstone Clee Hill in Shropshire.  My aim was to photograph some of the amazing array of fungi that are present there and also try and pick up any possible passage migrant birds that may be present.

It was sunny with blue skies when I left Kidderminster but when I went through Cleobury Mortimer the skies were becoming dull and cloudy.  By the time I had  reached Clee Hill I couldn't see the summit it was totally fogged out.  This would scupper my visibility on the bird front but I decided to go up there and photograph the fungi regardless.

The mossy acidic grassland surrounding the summit is exceptional for fungi (especially Waxcaps) and the variety on offer today didn't disappoint.  As usual this time of year I noted large numbers of both Meadow Waxcap & Snowy Waxcap, with Blackening Waxcap & Scarlet Waxcap also noted.  Other interesting species of fungi noted included  Hairy Earth Tongue, Meadow Coral and Turf Mottlegill.

As the morning turned to afternoon the fog eventually started to clear and I finally got to see a few birds, including  3 Stonechats that were present just below the summit car park, a Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrels, and 7 Ravens

Now the visibility had cleared I also picked up three flocks of Fieldfare that flew through (containing 57, 30 & 82 birds).

From the summit area I popped down the road to checkout the area next to the working quarry.  Here
an adult ♂ Stonechat, c.60 Meadow Pipits and 7 Pied Wagtails were present.

From Titterstone I drove down to Catherton Common which is located a couple of miles down the road on the lower slopes of Clee.  Along the lane a ♂ Stonechat was perched up on a gorse bush and a few Linnets were on the wires.

I parked up at the North East side of the common and undertook a short walk along some of the sheep tracks through the heather.  Not far into the walk a bird took off from one of the boggy pools next literally about a foot away and I nearly jumped out of my skin.  Before I lifted my bins, to get a better view as it flew, I knew what it was, a Jack Snipe!  This made my day as I hadn't expected to flush one at the common and didn't even know they occurred up there. 

Jack Snipe are small compact waders that are more compact than Common Snipe, around a third smaller and has four yellow stripes that run the length of it's back that are easily identifiable in flight.  The length of the bill of a Jack Snipe is about half that of it's larger relative and, unlike a Common Snipe, a Jack Snipe doesn't have a central crown stripe.  Another quirk of the Jack Snipe is that it will sit tight and hanker down if it senses a threat until that threat/perceived threat is literally on top of it when it will fly up.  Common Snipe however will fly off pretty much as soon as they see you getting closer.  Anyway, enough of the id pointers on with the post.

I continued my walk across the heath and didn't get very far when a 2nd Jack Snipe flew up from my feet and made me jump so much I almost caused me to fill my pants with cake!  They are that well camouflaged they are hard to spot amongst the vegetation.  This one flew off in a straight line for about 60-70 metres before dropping down again amongst the heather. 

After a while I lost the track I was following and ended up in in a dense area of heather, so I decided to double back and head to the car.  What a great end to a day that started off so dull!

Turf Mottlegill

Hairy Earthtongue

Blackening Waxcaps